Ken Ehrlich and I walked around Evergreen Cemetery and 5 Puntos and found two nice lodgers who let us into the Fellowship House, still standing on Evergreen where Aunti Fu and Uncle John met after returning from internment after World War 2, down the street from where Manuel’s is now in East L.A., before they married. The place appears more rundown than it seems in the video, but you get the idea. People living in small single and double dorm rooms, with camp-like concrete showers under the stairs, and communal areas where they could meet and eat. A couple older guys are living in the place now, but it’s mostly empty, with a few scattered childrens’ toys and a faded basketball making it seem emptier. Mexican music coming from some odd corner of the building, down the darkened hall. The fountain in the central courtyard stained and dry, pigeons living in the eves. In the words of the caption from 1945 old photo: “Luncheon at the Evergreen Hostel, 506 N. Evergreen Street, Los Angeles. Three meals a day and dormitory accommodations are provided at only $1 per person per day for the first week, and $1.50 from then on. The meals are prepared in a clean kitchen by fellow guests, who all partake of the housekeeping duties in the operation of the hostel. The Evergreen Hostel cares for 80 to 90 guests at one time. It is three stories high, and has an attractive patio. It is located in the Boyle Heights district on the eastern side of the Los Angeles River. The surroundings are quiet and pleasant, and streetcars provide good transportation to downtown Los Angeles. — Photographer: Mace, Charles E. — Los Angeles, California. 6/1/45”
These rooming houses were from days before motel chains, when you could get a cheap room at the YMCA across the street from the Greyhound station in Santa Barbara if you were passing through town, or on the outs with your people. Who looks out to shelter poor people on the move these days? After World War 2 apparently the Quakers and other L.A. churches like Union Church (now the East West Theater) helped the Issei and Nisei return to town and find a place to live after they had been forcibly evacuated.